Nestled within the breathtaking beauty of the Lake District, Whinfell Forest Center Parcs offers a serene haven for families and nature enthusiasts alike, especially those who are keen to explore the local area and all the Lake District National Park has to offer.
In this comprehensive review, we’ll explore the highlights and amenities of this popular Cumbria holiday resort while keeping an eye on the stunning surroundings.
Whinfell Forest Center Parcs Review
In 2023, we spent a week in May/June during the school break at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs, opting for the 7-night Center Parcs stay (Monday to Monday). We sampled most of the restaurants on-site and tried a handful of the bookable Center Parcs activities. As well as enjoying the resort, we also ventured out for a few days to explore the lakes and mountains.
Stay tuned to see our photos and hear what we honestly think about the accommodation, Center Parcs, and my first-ever visit to the Lake District.
Whinfell Center Parcs Accommodation Review
Whinfell Forest Center Parcs boasts an array of comfortable lodges and spacious villas, designed to cater to guests of all sizes. These well-appointed accommodations ensure a restful stay amidst the natural beauty of Cumbria.
We chose the New Style Woodland Lodge 2 Bed costing a total of £1758 for 7 nights. The cost at Center Parcs during the school holidays is somewhat staggering, however, the lodge provides a comfortable, clean and cosy place to stay to explore the Lake District.
Being our first family holiday in over 18 months we decided to splash out and make the most of Center Parcs and its offerings.
We weren’t new to Center Parcs, having stayed at Longleat a few years before, but we were on a strict budget then and had to only take part in the free things to do at Center Parcs, so it was nice to return with a higher budget and take part in some activities this time.
The kids are keen to return every year, but it’s not a holiday we can afford in the UK every year. For the total cost of our entire trip, we could go abroad and probably all-inclusive! However, I’m sure we’ll return to another Center Parc location in a few years as we had so much fun!
When we arrived there was a lovely personalised message on the chalkboard. This was a lovely touch as it was our daughter’s birthday during our stay!
The lodge was cleaned to a high standard and had everything we needed for a full week’s stay. Although we ate out a lot, we also had a BBQ at the lodge, ate breakfast most days at the lodge and cooked in the lodge a couple of evenings.
There’s a TV for the evenings if you want to watch a film and a fireplace, but we didn’t use the heating as we came in the summer. It will be interesting to visit a Center Parcs one winter to experience the contrast in seasons.
As a family of four, we had plenty of space for dining. I expect the larger lodges to have larger dining areas to cater for more people, but we haven’t ever seen these. As you can see in the background there is a cot if needed for a baby or toddler, as well as a high chair.
The bathroom was absolutely fine for our stay. It was clean and they provided an extra couple of toilet rolls, but we also took a few spare with us just in case.
They provide a set of towels for each person, but as we knew we’d be swimming a lot, we also brought a stack of our own towels from home!
The shower is OK. I’d prefer a larger shower head and more power, but it was warm/hot and fine for a holiday.
Overall, we don’t have any complaints about the accommodation. The kids had a twin room with plenty of space and shelves to put their bits and bobs, so they liked having their own holiday room. Now they are older (8 years and 11 years on this trip) it’s definitely better they have their own beds and own room so everyone gets a good night’s sleep!
Oh, we even had ducklings and squirrels visit our patio. Much of the wildlife around the resort is so tame.
Whinfell Forest Center Parcs Location and Surroundings
Center Parcs Whinfell Forest is perfectly positioned just a short drive from the idyllic Lake District National Park. It’s embraced by the rich woodlands and crystal-clear lakes that characterise this renowned area. This setting provides an ideal backdrop for a peaceful getaway.
The resort is nestled right in the heart of Whinfell Forest, creating a serene and natural atmosphere for your holiday. Even though our lodge was next to another, we still had plenty of privacy and tranquillity to fully appreciate our surroundings without any hustle and bustle.
Surrounded by tall forest trees, we could truly immerse ourselves in the soothing sounds of nature. We were so lucky to experience so much wildlife right outside our lodge from ducklings to pheasants, to deer and squirrels.
We pretty much spent half the week staying at the Center Parcs resort taking part in activities, swimming, restaurant dining and scooting around the complex… and then half the week exploring various places in the incredible Lake District.
I’d not been to the Lake District before, but my husband was born in Penrith and lived in the Lakes until he was around 7 or 8 years old! He was keen to show me his childhood home so we drove and explored areas near where he lived as a boy!
A short drive from Whinfell Forest, you have the opportunity to embark on mountain climbs, stroll alongside the most scenic lakes, and explore charming village shops.
I will soon share other blog posts revealing more of the stunning scenery and locations we visited while in the Lake District, outside of Center Parcs!
The resort at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs is a great place for leisurely walks. You can explore the beautiful surroundings and take in the natural beauty of the area as you stroll through the forested grounds where the lodges are located, or around the paths of the activity and shopping centre and lake.
You can even go off-path and through some of the forest areas in certain places.
The kids brought their scooters and bikes with them. My husband and I either walked or went for a run while the kids rode around the resort! They have bike hire at Center Parcs, but if you can bring your own then it’s a more affordable option.
Activities and Entertainment at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs
One of the key attractions of this Lake District getaway is its diverse range of activities. From the indoor subtropical swimming paradise to thrilling outdoor adventures such as cycling and wildlife encounters, Whinfell Forest Center Parcs leaves no stone unturned in delivering memorable experiences for all ages.
There are numerous activities for all ages. Here are just some of the activities on offer:
- Electric boats
- Treetop adventures
- Nature activities
- Spa and wellness
- Indoor climbing
- Mini Golf
The list goes on as they have up to 200 activities on offer!
The indoor activity centre is great in any weather with many courts from table tennis to regular tennis or badminton and even a ‘football pool’ table which looks great fun! Kick the balls in the pockets with your feet instead of using cues!
The climbing walls were amazing at Center Parcs. We did this activity for my daughter’s birthday as she loves climbing. The designs of the walls are really fun. We had a quick intro to the walls, an induction and a safety briefing, then we were able to work our way around for 50 minutes and try as many of the walls as possible.
I was meant to do the Aerial Tree Trekking with Reuben, but he got too scared and had to come down! So I had to do the Aerial Tree Trekking by myself! This is the lower course. My daughter and husband did it before me, but I got stuck with my son who freaked out and got too worried he’d fall and not be able to get back on the course, so the instructors had to help him back down.
Luckily we opted for the lower course as we were originally going to pick the Aerial Adventure which is the high course, so he’d never have got up there!! Aside from my son, we are keen to do the higher course, so maybe next time, if we go to a Center Parcs again. Or he might be feeling braver next time when he’s a bit older.
The course was great fun but still slightly scary on this lower-down adventure! It must feel super high on the other.
There are also lots of free areas to play at Center Parcs. There was a slightly hidden indoor play area in the shopping centre, as well as a large activity playground outside.
Whinfell Forest Subtropical Swimming Paradise
The star of the show at any Center Parcs location just has to be the Subtropical Swimming Paradise!
The pools are heated to a lovely warm bath temperature and have plenty of slides, lazy rivers, splash pads and wave machines to keep all ages entertained.
Our kids, ages 8 and 11 at the time, absolutely loved the wave machine, the slides next to each other which we could try to race down at the same time and the indoor rapids.
My husband loved the outdoor flume. My son (age 8) and I scared ourselves on the Tropical Cyclone, not knowing what we were going down so it took us by surprise!
Take a look at the map of the swimming pool at Whinfell Forest:
As you may imagine, the Subtropical Swimming Paradise can get pretty busy! We found it best to visit late afternoon or after dinner to avoid the crowds. Also, it was much quieter on the changeover days which are Monday and Friday.
Dining at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs
When it comes to dining options, Whinfell Forest Center Parcs has it all covered. Whether craving British classics or international cuisine, the on-site restaurants cater to various tastes and preferences with well-known names such as Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge.
The kids LOVED being served by a robo-cat at Bella Italia. It’s the first time we’ve had this experience so it was a novelty and rather unique!
We ate at:
- The Pancake House
- Bella Italia
- Cafe Rouge
- Lakeside Inn
We also had takeaway to our lodge one night, with yummy vegan pizza and chips!
The only place we didn’t like was The Pancake House, but possibly as we are all vegan and the vegan pancakes were not good. They were actually really bad and we didn’t finish them. Our daughter had the vegan nachos and we were all envious of her meal, wishing we’d all ordered nachos!
All the other places had vegan options and we were happy with our food. It’s advisable to book as the restaurants and cafes can get really busy at peak times at Center Parcs. We found it really easy to book all the restaurants and activities online. We were able to pay some deposits for restaurants which were taken off our overall bill and I expect it will stop people from booking up tables and not showing up.
Shopping at Whinfell Forest
While the natural beauty, outdoor activities and Subtropical Swimming Paradise are undoubtedly the stars of the show at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs, there’s also a slight shopping experience to be had right within the resort.
The on-site shops offer a variety of items, from essentials to souvenirs. Whether you’re looking for groceries, holiday essentials, or a unique keepsake to remember your trip, you’ll find it here. The convenience of having these shops on-site means you can easily pick up anything you need without leaving Whinfell Forest.
As well as the supermarket on-site and the gift shop, there’s a sweet shop for the kids which was an absolute favourite and we were often dragged in!
Rather surprisingly there was also a Joules clothing store in the indoor sports and activities centre.
In summary, Whinfell Forest Center Parcs stands out as an exceptional destination for a family-friendly holiday or a romantic retreat amidst the captivating landscapes of Cumbria.
Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, this Lake District gem has it all. Book your stay today and immerse yourself in the natural splendour of Whinfell Forest Center Parcs.
Would we return? Absolutely! So that is the best indicator when it comes to a review!
The lakes were also AMAZING! We will post separate blog posts soon about the places we visited and the mountains we climbed! Here’s a little look at what to expect in the Lake District: